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What to expect from a highland games

What to expect from a highland games

Posted by Hilton Coylumbridge, August, 2013

If you’ve never experienced the thrill of a Highland Games before, there are many renowned events from May through to September in the Aviemore area.

We have lots of visitors from other parts of the UK and overseas who are not sure what to expect from a Highland Games. With this in mind, we decided to write this article covering some of the main attractions that have made these events popular over the past 100 years and more.

  • Tossing the caber

This is one of the most famous events at the Highland Games. If you don’t know what a caber is, here’s a short explanation:

A caber is a trimmed tree trunk usually about 5-6 metres in length and weighing around 79kg.

Tossing the caber is very much a strength event. The aim is to try to get the caber to move in the air so that the top end lands nearest the person throwing and the bottom end lands pointing away from them.

  • Tug o’ war

A good old fashioned tug o’ war involves two teams of five to eight people and one strong rope. In order to win, one team must pull the other a distance of 12 feet. Tug o’ war battles can often last a considerable length of time as the upper hand ebbs and flows.

At Highland Games events the tug o’ war contest is the best of three pulls with the victorious team having the local bragging rights for 12 months.

  • Solo and band piping competitions

The sound of the bagpipes strikes a chord with people from all over the world. The scenic setting of most Highland Games events adds a little touch of magic to hearing Scotland’s national instrument belting out traditional tunes.

These piping competitions are taken very seriously by all involved and are about much more than simply entertaining the crowds – there’s a lot of pride at stake.

  • Highland Dancing contests

Highland Dancing is also a mainstay of the Highland Games events Scotland is so well known for. If you’ve never been to Scotland or a Highland Games before, you’ll get the chance to see traditional routines that have been performed for centuries.

Highland Dancing is a real treat for the senses with great music, colourful outfits and the enthusiastic crowds making for a memorable spectacle.

  • Throwing the hammer

You may have seen hammer throwing on TV at the Olympics or other major athletics event, but at the Highland Games, it of course has a Scottish twist. Rather than donning a numbered vest, the competitors have kilts on as they try to launch the heavy hammer (weighing 16lbs/7.25kg) as far as they possibly can.

  • Weight over the bar

This event has been featured in some strongman competitions across the world and always keeps the crowds entertained. It’s no mean feat to try to throw a 56lb/25kg one-handed over a horizontal bar that’s high above the ground.

Each contestant gets up to three attempts at each height with the bar being raised after each round is completed.

  • Other events

The events mentioned above are just some of those you’ll find at a Highland Games. There are often flat and hill running races, sheaf tossing, eating competitions and lots of family-friendly activities to make sure everyone has a great day out.

Highland Games are just one of the local attractions at this time of year. If you’re looking for other ideas for days out, take a look at these indoor and outdoor attractions in the Aviemore area